AMC’s Master Mapmaker Edward Chamberlain

August 11, 2015

  • 1.ChamberlainPortrait
  • 2.Card074
  • 3.Early map078
  • 4.IMG_2424
  • 5.Pano077
  • 6.Pano list076
  • 7.IMG_9982

Edward G. Chamberlain (1845-1935), one of AMC’s earliest members, immersed himself in mapmaking from a young age. He devoted his life to surveying and cartography, both for the commonwealth of Massachusetts and for AMC, and eventually became the organization’s unofficial cartographer.

When he took it upon himself to volunteer his assistance at an AMC outing to Prospect Hill in Waltham, Mass., charter members sent him a blank membership card with their signatures in support of his candidacy. He was a dedicated member from that point until his death.

Chamberlain was a familiar face on AMC’s Saturday outings, mapping out each week’s route in detail. His measurements included timing, distance, and elevation changes, whether on an excursion into the White Mountains or on a casual stroll around Boston. His painstaking work surveying the Charles River from Hopkinton to the tidewater at Watertown is, according to his obituary in a 1936 issue of Appalachia, “a prized possession of the Club.” Chamberlain also produced the first map of the Blue Hills, which the Metropolitan Park Commission published in 1893.

He was easily identifiable, always carrying a water pail in which he stashed his surveying transit, along with a tripod over his shoulder, an ax in his belt, and a 100-foot steel tape in his pocket. Hundreds of his maps, panoramas, detailed excursion reports, and other notes and drawings remain in the AMC Library & Archives.

Images seen here appear courtesy of the AMC Library & Archives. Duplicates can be ordered for a fee. Funds support efforts to preserve the club’s historical collections. Call 617-391-6629, visit outdoors.org/library, or e-mail amclibrary@outdoors.org for details.

Search AMC Outdoors and Blogs


Search for:

Hamlet Fort

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.